PASADENA - Welcome, friends, to the executive session that was never supposed to take place.
TCA members were unhappy.
CBS decided to schedule a brief and last-second executive session with Tassler.
I don't mean to suggest causality between those last two sentences. I'm sure it's totally coincidental.
It is true, though, that CBS has been TV's most-watched network for almost the entire duration for my time on this job, which means that the network doesn't have the same number of failures or big gambles as the other networks and that can mean controversy-free executive sessions, which aren't necessarily high in drama
But perhaps this morning will be different. Click through....
8:29 a.m. We almost didn't get this panel, but instead it's been scheduled for a very early-morning slot and it promises to only be a truncated 20 minutes.
8:32 a.m. "You spoke, we listened," Tassler says, regarding the previous absence of executive session. She explains that this is a forum that makes her nervous. It's unclear what to make of that, since she's been doing this with us for years. She begins by trumpeting the success that CBS has had this past year and whatnot. "It really wasn't a sign of disrespect," she swears.
8:34 a.m. CBS has no announcements at all this morning. "We are very proud of the success this year," Tassler says, before praising the "Two and a Half Men" rebooting, plus the addition of Elisabeth Shue to "CSI." She keeps calling Shue "Lisa," which I guess is how she's known to friends.
8:35 a.m. Tassler knows her SEO keywords and she makes sure to thank Tim Tebow, who gave CBS a huge ratings bump this past weekend. Anyway, though, CBS is up year-to-year and CBS is No.1 in everything that matters to CBS. So there you go!
8:37 a.m. Tassler is still giving her opening statement, meaning that we're going to have only 13 minutes of questions for her.
8:37 a.m. "We do hear from a lot of viewers about the overruns, but that means we have a very passionate and engaged audience," Tassler says of the fall NFL impact on "The Good Wife." She still feels that the shift to Sunday was a very good move and that the audience is upscale and engaged and that "Good Wife" fits well on Sunday.
8:39 a.m. Tassler praises that writers and cast of "NCIS" for showing continued growth after all of these years, praising "the balance in tone, style." She says the show is in its "later years," but I think she just means "later" rather than "earlier."
8:40 a.m. What's up with "The 22"? "Everything is fine and it's probably going to have a later spring launch," she says, noting that the police drama was pushed to later in spring because of the strength of the fall. Yes. Just like "Miami Medical" and "Chaos."
8:40 a.m. Is the network taking a hands-off approach to "2 Broke Girls," since it's a hit? "We have a really great working relationship with Michael [Patrick King]," Tassler says, adding that it's the network's policy to try to give showrunners the chance to find their shows. She uses "Big Bang Theory" as her example of a show that dimensionalized characters gradually. Asked for her opinion on the diner scenes, Nina says "They're equal opportunity offenders," but again mentions dimensionalizing characters.
8:43 a.m. Is CBS looking for more competition reality? With "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race," CBS is in good shape, but the network has a heavy development slate. The network doesn't want to follow the same path the other networks are following, emphasizing shows with a greater "narrative drive."
8:44 a.m. Does Tassler think NBC is making a mistake by scheduling "The Voice" against CBS' comedies? "I don't know what that matchup is going to do," Tassler says, but she notes that a lot of people are watching TV, so everybody should still be able to get maximum exposure.
8:45 a.m. Regarding development, Tassler says that "relevance" is a major goal, trying to find characters who are relatable to audiences. The key, naturally, is "strong storytelling." She says, "Audiences need to engage with characters," calling TV "an intimate medium." She says that the network tries to present flawed characters who are on their own personal journeys, but also have a core morality. The goal is to produce shows that aren't there just for a good pilot, but for the 100th or 200th episodes. She wants showrunners who feel their shows personally. She references Jonah Nolan ("Person of Interest") as a showrunner who felt his show deeply.
8:48 a.m. Social media is important to CBS.
8:48 a.m. What challenges is CBS having programming 8:30 on Thursday? "Looking for a show that is a companion isn't limited to just another multi-camera show. It could be a single-camera show," Tassler says. But "The Big Bang Theory" is a big hit and they're dedicated to finding a companion for it. Poor "Rules of Engagement."
8:49 a.m. What happened with "The Talk"? Shows in their first season go through changes and Tassler compares those changes to changes on a sitcom or drama. "We saw an opportunity moving forward into the next season and we took advantage of it," Tassler says, though she adds that unlike on a scripted show, you don't need to give explanation for those changes. She says that there may be continued evolution over time. "It's sorta par for the course," Tassler adds, praising the content and the "spirited" discussion.
8:52 a.m. What is CBS' summer ideology? "We're being very aggressive. We have a number of shows in development in the unscripted space that we have early triggers on," Tassler promises, though she also says that CBS' hit shows will repeat all summer, because that's what CBS does. The network's summer strategy is keeping the audience engaged and happy.
8:54 a.m. Is "Person of Interest" doing well? Tassler says it's performing "very well" and the network is "extremely pleased" with the show, but nobody's making any decisions about anything so far. "There's a lot of talk about 'Person of Interest,'" Tassler says. She says, not surprisingly, that everybody has realized that the Taraji P. Henson character has been "too peripheral." Geez. Why did that take so long to figure out? They're planning on bringing the Carter character into "the superhero cave" a bit earlier than originally planned. "We feel that that was a key ingredient to really letting the show build and expand," Tassler says.
8:57 a.m. Could "Smash" lead CBS to get into the musical business? And are there ever nights Tassler feels like the Monday comedies are too lewd, collectively? "We don't bring people in for a mass meeting about that quality of the shows," Tassler says. "They're a little risque, but the characters are... living truthfully within their relative situations," she says. Tassler adds that because there's ratings growth for the shows, they're resonating [and therefore above charges of crudeness?] . Everything that happens on the comedies happens within the bounds of their standards and practices. As for "Smash"? "I'm a big 'Glee' watcher. I hope it does well for them. I think it's important that in all of our respective jobs that we continue to explore," Tassler says. Did the critic forget that "Viva Laughlin" was just a few seasons ago?
That's all, folks...
Will ABC have anything controversial or exciting to talk about at Tuesday (January 10) morning's Television Critics Association press tour panel?
Only one way to find out...
Click through for the full live-blog...
Buckle in, boys and girls. It's time to hear from the "American Idol" team about why this year's crop of singers is the best crop ever and why "Idol" will continue to be TV's most popular show.
Click through for the full live-blog, in which we may learn what the "Performance Challenge" episode is all about...
Our FOX TCA Day began with a "Touch" panel which was really about "24" and "Heroes."
Then we moved on to "Alcatraz," which was really a panel about "Lost."
Now? It's time for FOX Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, who I assume will only be asked about his time running NBC.
11:08 a.m. Kevin Reilly begins his panel by announcing that he's actually going to be watching the Falcons-Giants game on his phone throughout. Sepinwall looks jealous.
11:09 a.m. FOX is going to be debuting a Saturday "alternative animated" late-night block. Like Adult Swim only on FOX.
11:14 a.m. Interestingly, the digital chatter is still going. This is pretty impressive.
11:14 a.m. Finally our first fresh question. We're talking "House." "I think we've just been avoiding it. To be honest with you, it's hard to imagine the network without 'House,'" Reilly says. They've agreed to put off a decision until after the first of the year and they haven't had said meeting about the fate of the show yet. "Honestly, we simply haven't made the decision," Reilly insists. "Should this be the last season, it's not going to be an unceremonious finish," Reilly says, adding that he hopes it's a decision they'll make it together.
11:16 a.m. "It could and that'll be their business," Reilly says on the possibility of "House" moving to NBC if FOX decides not to move forward.
11:17 a.m. "We've done a good job of avoiding some of these big decisions until after the session," Reilly says of the future of "Terra Nova." He said, "It was an exciting bet to take" and he insists that "Terra Nova" worked and that "a distinct audience" stuck with the show and enjoyed it. "The fact is, if this is all we produced, we made money off it, the studio made money off it, the audience enjoyed it," Reilly swears. He has focus group evidence that the show has a family audience. "I love the cast. I love some of the episodes. I love some of the ideas that were there," Reilly says, while also admitting that creatively, the show was "hunting." The problem is that FOX has fewer holes in its lineup. "It does need to get back into production over the next month," he hints.
11:20 a.m. Reilly is "thrilled" with "The X Factor" and the boost it gave FOX fall. "It's its own show. It's its own energy. It's its own spectacle," Reilly says, promising that there are changes coming, but Reilly doesn't know what they will be. Reilly wants to note that the hosting gig on a show like this is harder than meets the eye. "Whether Steve's the guy or not, it comes under the heading of 'growth in general,'" Reilly says.
11:21 a.m. And what about Ryan Seacrest's future on "Idol." "It's very hard to imagine the show without Ryan," Reilly says, calling this "a tough negotiation.
11:22 a.m. "That time has come and gone," Reilly says of the possibility of a "House" spinoff, but he notes that FOX isn't in such a desperate place that they need to keep the show alive in some form.
11:23 a.m. Does Reilly have any concerns about market oversaturation regarding music talent shows? "I expect 'Idol' will be down this season," Reilly says, but he tells us not to read anything into that, emphasizing that it's just an 11-year-old show and shows like that drop. "There have been many 'Idol' stories that have been filed prematurely," Reilly says. He adds that until the audience gets bored, audiences aren't tired of the shows. "When the audience is bored, we'll know it's over," Reilly says. "There's no magic number, but you'll watch the trend line and you'll know."
11:26 a.m. Reilly thinks that "Dance" is still a creative tentpole for FOX's summer. "We wanted to get a few more shows on over the summer," Reilly explains, promising that audiences will like the new "So You Think You Can Dance" format.
11:28 a.m. RETRANS QUESTION! This is where I will nap during each executive session.
11:29 a.m. What's up with "Allen Gregory"? "We will not be making any more 'Allen Gregorys,'" Reilly says, though he adds that FOX is hoping to make more shows with Jonah Hill. With "The Simpsons" reupping and a "Flintstones" reboot upcoming, FOX isn't worried about the occasional animation failure and he predicts that "Bob's Burgers" will go to "the next level" this season.
11:30 a.m. Did FOX blunder by benching "New Girl" for October? "I don't like ever taking a show off, but the reality is that in general, shows need to take hiatus during their life cycle." Reilly says. "We took a hit and 'Glee' took a hit," Reilly admits, while acknowledging that "Glee" is down double-digits this season. He says, though, that there's ample time for audiences to rediscover "New Girl" and "we're off to a hell of a start." He adds, "I'm really proud of the show" and refuses to apologize for the benching. "It's part of the high class problem we have."
11:33 a.m. Time for "Fringe" questions! "'Fringe' has been a point of pride. I share the passion for the show that the fans have," Reilly says. "It's vastly improved our Friday night," he adds. "The hesitation in my voice is that it's an expensive show. We lose a lot of money on that show," he says, while adding that FOX is not in the business of losing money. "Please don't start the letter-writing campaign. I can't take it," Reilly says, while adding that it's a decision they're going to have to make down the road and that discussions really haven't started.
11:36 a.m. Reilly likes FOX's NFL deal.
11:36 a.m. "Glee" spinoff talk? There will not be a "Glee" spinoff, but Ryan Murphy and company have an idea for how to follow the characters who are graduating within the show and he promises a cool end-of-season and fall. So "No 'Glee' spinoff. Trust in Ryan Murphy." Can you do that?
11:38 a.m. How is Reilly feeling about "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" and multi-cam comedy? Reilly is also determined to get back into the multi-cam game. "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" has six or seven episodes remaining and he swears that they'll air. He thinks that multi-cam comedies work best in pairs and they're hard to crack, but he points to CBS for evidence that audiences want to see them. "Think back: Not everybody in this room loved 'Big Bang Theory' when it first came on," Reilly says. "Don't pile on the shows so quickly when they're just hanging out there. I know some of them are just excruciatingly bad, but they're hard," Reilly says.
That's it for Kevin Reilly, sports fans.
John Grisham's "The Film" and the subsequent Sydney Pollack film were viewed as a beach read and a consummate piece of popcorn entertainment and both were approached with only the most casual eye toward logic or accuracy.